Justice Scalia proffers that while he accepted the vice president's offer of a ride on Air Force Two to Louisiana for a duck hunting trip, taking along his son and son-in-law, there was no quid pro quack. "I never hunted in the same blind as the vice president," he says. No need for justice to be blind when the blinds are just.
Not since Tony Soprano discovered ducks in his swimming pool have ducks revealed so much about the man.
The justice elucidates that if he and his family had not accepted a free ride on Air Force Two, there would have been "considerable inconvenience" to his other friends, who would have had to meet a commercial plane in New Orleans and arrange car and boat trips to the hunting camp.
What is integrity compared to inconvenience?
"I daresay that, at a hypothetical charity auction, much more would be bid for dinner for two at the White House than for a one-way flight to Louisiana on the vice president's jet," he writes wittily. "Justices accept the former with regularity." Now there's an argument that requires a first-rate mind: Everybody does it.
Only a few casuistical steps away from parsing the meaning of "is," Justice Scalia writes that it is fine for him to be friends with Mr. Cheney and hear his case as long as it doesn't concern "the personal fortune or the personal freedom of the friend."
Maureen Dowd, Quid Pro Quack, The New York Times, March 21, 2004
Two leading Democratic senators asked Chief Justice William Rehnquist on Thursday about the propriety of a hunting trip Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took with Vice President Dick Cheney while Cheney has a case pending before the high court.
In a letter to Rehnquist, Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut asked the chief justice to tell them what "canons, procedures and rules" are in place to determine when justices should recuse themselves from cases.
They also asked Rehnquist what guidance justices have been given about accepting trips, and whether the full court has any way to disqualify a member from hearing a case if a justice refuses to recuse himself.
"When a sitting judge, poised to hear a case involving a particular litigant, goes on a vacation with that litigant, reasonable people will question whether that judge can be a fair and impartial adjudicator of that man's case or his opponent's claims," the senators wrote.
Rehnquist questioned on Cheney-Scalia trip, CNN, January 22, 2004
Judicial-ethics experts say the ride aboard Air Force Two could be viewed as an improper gift from a litigant to a justice. In addition, some say the fact that the justice and a litigant are vacationing together undermines the appearance of judicial impartiality.
Cheney's case involves lawsuits filed by a government watchdog group, Judicial Watch, and the environmental group Sierra Club. Both are seeking disclosure of information about consultations between energy officials and the vice president's Energy Task Force back in 2001. Neither group has filed a motion seeking Scalia's recusal, but Sierra Club officials say they are considering it.
The Cheney case is significant because it involves a broad assertion of executive branch authority to conduct White House affairs in secret. Some analysts say the case could result in a 5-to-4 split, or 4-to-4 if Scalia bows out.
Legal experts say the prospect that a recusal could determine the outcome of a case is one reason Congress left it to each justice to decide whether to recuse.
Warren Richey, Was the duck hunt a conflict of interest?, The Christian Science Monitor, February 13, 2004
More than twenty newspaper editorials have demanded that Supreme Court Justice Scalia recuse himself from hearing the case regarding Vice President Cheney's energy task force meetings -- all because they did a little duck hunting together. Robert Destro, a law professor at Catholic University of America, called the accusations "a bunch of hooey." (Stop with the jargon already!) Scalia has also attempted to quash suspicions that the trip was an play by the Veep to influence Scalia's decision in the case. "No, no, no," Scalia told reporters, "Of course Cheney's not trying to buy my vote! Do you think he's stupid? He only pays after the vote is cast. The duck hunting was just the final payment for throwing the election. When he takes me to the Vineyard in July, that will be the payback for the privacy decision." Besides, added Scalia, "We only shot the sodomite ducks."
Scalia and Cheney's Duck Hunting Trip, Wonkette!, February 2, 2004
ApolloMedia filed a response and motion to quash the order asserting an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech. Both a Texas magistrate court and District Court refused to lift the gag. Following a series of secret proceedings, secret briefs and last minute and cunning maneuvers by the government, ApolloMedia appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals who in February 2000 agreed to hear oral argument, which it finally heard in May 2000. During that time, ApolloMedia attempted to solicit the intervention of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by filing a motion to stay the Order. Scalia saw fit to uphold the seal and the gag order.
Clinton Fein, Houston, We Have a Problem, Annoy.com, September 6, 2000